Giving voice to survivors

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Me Too.

Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey are just a few of the big name men who have been accused of sexual harassment and assault this past month. As a result hundreds of thousands of women have shared their stories of harassment and assault via the viral hashtag #MeToo.

The hashtag went viral shortly after The New York Times revealed Weinstein’s story. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted out to fellow survivors to share their stories, “so we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” However, Milano was not the creator of the movement itself.

The “Me Too” movement began with a woman named Tarana Burke. Burke felt a responsibility to create a space of healing, both for her and for survivors like her – specifically, women of colour, who experience assault and harassment at an alarming rate.

The movement had its critics as it went viral: is asking a survivor to re-tell their stories helpful or traumatic? If men never believed survivors before, why is this the answer? Isn’t one woman’s story enough? And while I feel these critiques are valid – especially in that no survivor should feel pressured to tell her story – perhaps it shouldn’t be about men at all. Instead, it should be about women feeling empowered in the knowledge that they are not alone.

The past month has marked a historic victory for survivors everywhere. A movement based in the experience of women has never gained this much attention. But, what are the consequences? Will the many perpetrators of sexual violence continue to be called out and held accountable? Maybe not.

In the wake of the most recent allegations, the reactions have already begun to shift. While Weinstein’s actions were immediately met with disgust, some people have appeared ready to defend Louis C.K. and U.S. Senator Roy Moore, even though their actions are just as heinous as those alleged before them.

Sexual assault and harassment are being placed on a scale, as if some forms are less demeaning and traumatic than others. I would argue, that is for the survivor to decide, not seemingly random men on Twitter.

Ultimately the events of the past month have brought many emotions forward for many different people. Some feel exhausted by the reliving of their experience. Some feel hopeful that this movement is the catalyst for change.

Perhaps you feel as I do: that while it is good while it lasts, we should not get too comfortable watching powerful men face consequence. I fear, the shift in dialogue we have seen will continue until survivors are once again silenced.

But for now: me too.

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